Van Hise, Charles Richard (1857-1918) was an American geologist and educator. His geological studies of the Precambrian formations of the Lake Superior region contributed greatly to iron mining there.
Van Hise was born in Fulton, Wisconsin. He studied metallurgic engineering at the University of Wisconsin and earned bachelor's degrees in 1879 and 1880, a master's degree in 1882, and a doctorate in 1892. He was appointed a metallurgy instructor there from 1879 to 1883, assistant professor in 1883, and professor in 1886. Meanwhile, from 1892 to 1903, he also was a visiting professor at the University of Chicago. In 1903, he was elected president of the University of Wisconsin, a position he held until his death.
Van Hise was one of the first to use the petro-graphic microscope to expand petrology, the study of the origin, structure, chemical composition, and classification of rocks. His analysis of crystalline rocks helped provide a foundation for applying quantitative methods to geological studies. In 1883, he began working for the U.S. Geological Survey. From 1888 to 1890, he did studies of iron-bearing districts of the Lake Superior region that were helpful to the mining industry there. In 1900, he was appointed geologist in charge of the survey's division of Precambrian and Metamorphic Geology and served as consulting geologist from 1909 to 1918. During that time, he developed his theories of metamorphism, stating that rock characteristics change according to recognized physical and chemical laws.
Van Hise's work convinced him that natural resources were not limitless and must be used judiciously. His book Conservation of Natural Resources in the United States (1910) was the first to integrate different aspects of conservation. For many years, it was the authoritative work in the field and a widely used college text.